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  • Author or Editor: Charles S. Vavrina x
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`Agriset', `All Star', and `Colonial' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) transplants set to a depth of the first true leaf and `Cobia' transplants set to a depth of the cotyledon leaves yielded more fruit at first harvest than plants set to the top of the rootball (root–shoot interface). The increase in fruit count was predominantly in the extra-large category. More red fruit at first harvest suggested that deeper planting hastens tomato maturity. The impact of planting depth diminished with successive harvests, indicating the response to be primarily a first-harvest phenomenon in tomato.

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`FTE 30' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) transplants were produced in Florida under standard commercial conditions and supplied with one of six treatments: zero, low (20% of the control rate), or high (control) super-phosphate (SP) fertilizer, or 0.5%, 1%, or 2% buffered-phosphorous fertilizer (Al-P). Growth characteristics were evaluated for four sets of transplants, produced in January, April, May, and August. Two sets of transplants were grown in the field in Florida (started in January and August) and one set was grown in Pennsylvania during the summer (started in May). Phosphorus concentration in leachate was measured weekly from one crop. Plants grown with Al-P showed a 72% to 88% reduction in P released in leachate compared with the high SP control. Transplants produced with 1% or 2% Al-P were of equal size and quality compared with transplants produced with conventional (high SP) fertilization, and had greater total root length and specific root length (length per unit root weight). Transplants grown with 0.5% Al-P were sometimes smaller than other fertilized treatments, while no-P plants were very small and grew slowly after transplanting. There were no significant differences in growth, yield, or fruit quality of plants fromtransplants grown with 1% or 2% Al-P or high SP at either site. Therefore high quality tomato transplants can be produced using buffered-P fertilizer, while reducing P leaching from the containers.

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Six greenhouse trials of five commercial products marketed as systemic resistance (SR) and plant growth promotion (PGP) inducers were evaluated on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) over a 21-month period. The effect of the inducers on treated plants was measured by monitoring plant growth and disease suppression after inoculation with either plant pathogenic bacteria or nematodes. The commercially available SR/PGP inducers included a bacterial suspension [Companion (Bacillus subtilis GB03)], two plant defense elicitors with nutrients (Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite, and Rezist with Cab'y), natural plant extracts (Liquid Seaweed Concentrate and Stimplex), and a synthetic growth regulator (Actigard 50W). Growth enhancement was noted in some trials, but the parameter of growth affected often varied with trial. Response to Actigard treatment included significant suppression of bacterial spot [Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria (Xcv)] in three of the six trials. Companion, Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite, Rezist and Cab'y, and seaweed products induced only partial disease suppression of bacterial spot in inoculated tomato plants. The alpha-keto acids plus nutrients (Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite) increased plant growth by 14.3% and improved root condition compared to the untreated control following exposure to nematodes. Results are encouraging, if not consistent, and with a greater understanding of the SR system and the conditions related to product efficacy, such materials may become effective tools for production agriculture.

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Bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) cultivars were grown in nine Florida environments to evaluate phenotypic stability of marketable fruit yield (t-ha-') and mean fruit size (g/fruit). A stable cultivar excelled for a particular trait when grown in either favorable or unfavorable environments. A stable cultivar for a given trait was defined as one with an individual mean greater than the grand mean (mean of all cultivars) (x > X), a regression coefficient (b1) ≤ 1 (individual genotypic mean regressed against environmental means), nonsignificant deviation mean squares from regression (S2d), coefficient of linear determination (R2) > 0.50, and coefficient of variation (cv) < the pooled cv. `Ssupersweet 860', `Whopper Improved', and `Ranger' were stable for mean marketable fruit weights and fruit size, and `Ssupersweet 860' and `Whopper Improved' were stable for mean fruit size. Bell pepper cultivars were differentiated for phenotypic stability of yield and fruit size or adaptability to diverse environments. Therefore, through stability analyses, bell pepper plant breeders can identify cultivars or select advanced breeding lines that express adaptability for fruit yields or size to diverse environmental conditions or cultural practices.

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